Jackson Fun Runner

Jackson Fun Runner 70
($1049; jacksonkayak.com)
L: 8'2"; W: 26.375"; 38 lbs. in roto-molded superlinear polyethylene

A late-summer, low-water run of Idaho's Middle Fork Salmon provided the ideal conditions for testing out Jackson's devout river-running design. Ideal meant long days to run through over 100 fun river miles of Class II-IV wilderness whitewater.

And getting into any high-mileage paddling day, normally I'd pull over ahead of the raft support to stretch out my legs. But many miles into my first day in JK's larger 70-gallon Fun Runner, I had a revelation about this boat's comfort: I didn't even bother to jump out of the boat to relieve myself. Rather, I just caught an eddy and popped the sprayskirt. The long hull features a comfy seat and higher knee position that coaxes you to keep put, and then snaps to life with more aggressive strokes, shifting from downriver cruising to slice-and-dice through lateral waves, easily catching that wave on the fly. Every wave, that is—and ones you might never catch in a larger-volume boat.

"I was reassessing smaller waves that you wouldn't even be looking out for otherwise," one typical creekboat tester said.
And therein lies the Fun Runner's main problem. When regrouping with the rafts, there were way too many potential testers wanting to hop in and try it out for themselves.

"Dude, I'd be fighting to get in that thing for a Grand trip," the same eager tester said. Chalk that desire up to length plus an edge that follows through under the seat, which translates to easy acceleration and tracking. Again, expect to catch waves.
Surfing the Fun Runner though, we're talking 'on-axis.' No aerial linked corkscrew bread and butter McNasty-nothings. But for the vast majority of horizontally inclined front-and back-surfing, flat-spinning, rock-splatting, stern-squirting paddlers, the combination of wave carving plus hull speed will provide plenty of entertainment.

Our 6-foot-4 tester (who paddled all day with size 14 shoes) certainly agreed.

"I just like to cruise downriver and catch eddies and grind on rocks and stuff," he said. "It carves very precisely, on a line, with the rails. You lean forward just a little bit to sink the nose and it goes as straight as an arrow; lean back just a little, those rails catch and you carve."

That planing hull continues up through the nose, but doesn't have a ton of rocker, so one downside noted by creekboating paddlers was is in the boofing department. Others from the playboating-averse side of the aisle noted the design could use a little less volume in the bow and especially in the stern.

But every tester eventually met somewhere in the middle, deciding that Jackson's on to something with this combination of sporty and roomy. — DS


Jackson Fun
Runner 70
RPM 9.0 Limited
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